• Verdasco eyes spot in SAP Open final

    2/13/10 6:50 AM | Kelli DeMario
    Verdasco eyes spot in SAP Open final Fernando Verdasco looks to advance to contest the championship match at the SAP Open. The second seed faces Denis Istomin in the first semifinal of the day early Saturday afternoon.

    Fernando Verdasco remains on course to reach his 10th career ATP World Tour final on Saturday, set for a first-time meeting with surprise semifinalist Denis Istomin. The second-seeded Spaniard has reached nine ATP finals, putting together title-winning runs in Valencia, Umag and New Haven. Verdasco booked a spot in two tour finals in 2009, finishing runner-up to Radek Stepanek in Brisbane and Nikolay Davydenko in Kuala Lumpur.

    The Madrid native enjoyed a fairly routine road to the final four, recording a straight-set win over both round of 16 opponent Benjamin Becker and quarterfinal-round challenger Ricardas Berankis. Verdasco survived the toughest test of the week on Wednesday, defeating Yen-Hsun Lu in the opening round, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

    The 26-year-old has continued to serve well heading into the semifinal battle, having held 34 of 37 service games. Verdasco struck nine aces during his quarterfinal clash with qualifier Berankis, raising his three-match tally to 36.

    The 96th-ranked Istomin passed through his early rounds comfortably, knocking out wildcard Ryan Harrison and fourth seed Tommy Haas without dropping a set. The 23-year-old snagged an impressive win over sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinal, hanging on to prevail 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 early Friday.

    Saturday’s match signals the first tour-level semifinal appearance for Istomin.

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
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